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Nike takes social media in-house

Nike has taken management of its social media marketing in-house and away from its digital advertising agencies in an effort to get closer to its fans.

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Sports brand takes social media marketing in-house in a bid to gain a deeper understanding of its fans.

The company’s internal social media teams will now manage all online communities from its Portland, Oregon headquarters after previously outsourcing the responsibility to agencies such as AKQA, Wieden & Kennedy, Mindshare and R/GA.

It follows a review by Nike’s senior director for social media and community Musa Tariq who pushed for the brand to assume full control of its social media offering following his arrival from Burberry last October.

The move, which is thought to taken place in November, is part of a broader effort from the business to gain a deeper understanding as to how its consumers interact with the brand on its owned social networks such as Nike Plus as well as on third party platforms.

Rival sports brands are also looking at effective ways to gain a more detailed understanding of their social media fanbase. Puma is working with an agency to reach young football fans on Twitter and Facebook, while Reebok has opted to conduct its own audit of all its social media profiles after declining offers from agencies.

Digital marketing experts observe that the role of agencies in managing social media is changing as marketers become more comfortable with developing their own strategies.

Roger Warner, director at social media agency Beyond, says: “Three years ago most brands didn’t really have a clear understanding of the impact social media would have on internal resources or their marketing strategies. Fast-forward and there are now roles in marketing departments focused solely on sharing and publishing content all the time. The smarter agencies have figured out that their value in the mix is on the idea rather than the day-to-day community management.”

Nike is putting more marketing muscle behind its digital initiatives, claiming that online channels are more valuable to its business strategy than traditional advertising. In the US alone, Nike has reduced spend on television and print advertisements by 40 per cent over the last three years, while its global marketing budget has steadily risen over the same period as the brand invests more in digital initiatives.

Nike declined to comment on the move. A spokesman for the business adds: “We never comment on speculation about our future plans so we won’t be able to confirm or deny.”

If you have a great social media case study that can demonstrate innovation and ROI then make sure you enter the Marketing Week Engage Awards 2013. The deadline is 15 January and you can find more here.

Readers' comments (9)

  • This could prove to be an interesting move, some of their previous social media campaigns have been huge successes - Maybe we could even go as far to say there were iconic, lets hope the in house team keeps up that standard.

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  • It certainly is an interesting development because whoever Nike previously used for their social media campaigns were exceptionally good. If this is merely a cost cutting excercise it could prove to backfire as with most things in life you get what you pay for and social media is such a specialised area and todate Nike can't complain about the results they have been receiving. One to watch for sure.

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  • Not sure this is a good move. It's probably just a money saving tactic. What Nike perhaps doesn't get is that they don't just have social media staff, but they have more HR work now, incurred expenses on infrastructure for these people to operate from, increases in their water, electricity and other consumptions etc. Not to mention pension funds and other levies and taxes.

    This will probably be outsourced again in less than 5 years from now.

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  • I think you miss the point : this is not about saving money, but tightening the relationship between the brand and its fans. On social media, response time and acuracy are key, espacially on the 70% period of time when you are NOT running a SM campaign. Its' not all about funny apps and Twitter-driven whatsoever ! It is also about understanding fans / customers and ability to push tailor-made answers / offers.
    To me, the best mix is : keep agencies to invent state of the art, ahead of competition SM diven campaigns; and internalize all day to day relationship

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  • It could be a smart move. By insourcing the social media activities they can get closer to their fans, and have a more direct conversation with their fans, instead of having an agency in-between. Although it could be a big disadvantage campaign-wise, not ensuring the quality like the previous hot agencies.

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  • Here are some comments on the importance of social media crafted by your believers http://blog.propaganda3.com/blog/2013/1/2/digital-yarn.html

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  • I fully agree with Lorenzo100, here. Insourcing day-to-day operations sounds like a excellent strategic move. I would bet they will still rely on agencies to provide slick videos, apps or leading edge photography and contest execution.

    But bringing in customer service and interactions is aligned with having core competencies in-house, which is what effective companies ought to do.

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  • The interesting trend is that social media is now considered 'core' to a brand. Brands may still be relatively clueless on how to harness social media and avoid social gaffes, but it is considered important enough to take it in-house.

    It's a big decision shift to hire folks internally for the function and forego saving a couple hundred grand by outsourcing.

    It will be exciting times as social media agencies re-define their business model and focus on adding value to clients in-house efforts.

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  • While I agree that a dream scenario is for marketing departments to manage important functions like social media marketing in-house, doing it brilliantly is a complex business and I’m just not sure it’s practically achievable for everyone. I've written a more in-depth analysis of the age old agency vs. in house debate here: http://bit.ly/UCOMg6

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